Wednesday, March 02, 2016

How it works in Samoa

Faumuina Tiatia Liuga is a Samoan politician. He's been in the news a lot over the last year over allegations of corruption and misuse of funds, to the extent that a former MP for his seat had come out of retirement to try and unseat him. So, he followed the usual Samoan practice of challenging their candidacy under the vague "village service" requirement - and succeeded. The result: less competition for him, and less democratic choice for the voters of Palauli-Le-Falefa.

That's bad enough, but in retaliation, the ejected candidates village banished him:

A Samoa election candidate and former minister of finance [Le Tagaloa Pita - I/S] has been banished from the village of Sili on Savaii.


A village matai says the council has also banished the village mayor, or pulenuu, for testifying in support of the case brought against Sili's paramount title holder.

The banishment decision means the former minister, and the pulenuu would not be allowed to reside, be seen or set foot in the village for life.

Or allowed to campaign there.

So you have village councils purporting to banish candidates to prevent them from campaigning, and punish witnesses for evidence they give in court. The first is dangerous for democracy; the second is contempt of court, if not perversion of the course of justice. But that apparently is how it works in Samoa.